Want to improve your English? Time to get intensive

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If you already know about everything you can gain from a U.S. education but wonder if your English is good enough for a college classroom, consider an intensive English program in the U.S.

At Yale University in Connecticut, one course combines language learning with preparation for college. In addition to practicing spoken and written English, students learn about the standardized tests used for college admission, become familiar with the college application process, and tour area colleges.

Yale’s summer English programs are designed to teach both language and culture. “We have traditional electives like pronunciation or TOEFL [the Test of English as a Foreign Language] preparation,” says Meg Palladino, director of the English Language Institute, “but then we also have a course that talks about the witchcraft and vampire hysteria of the 1600s and another in media and gender.”

The University of Florida’s intensive English program also prepares students for the American college experience. While the mission of the program is to teach students English, admissions coordinator Daryl Bish says, “we also help them understand academic life in the United States, so that when they get into an academic program, they already have the rhythms of campus life.”

The Intensive English Program at Rice University in Houston offers different levels ranging from fundamental, covering the essentials of written and spoken English, to more advanced study that focuses on academic preparation — skills such as essay writing and note taking. There are six sessions per year, each lasting seven weeks.

Kathleen Sayers, the program’s director, estimates that 40 percent of international students in the program are sponsored by their governments. Among the government-funded initiatives that make it possible for students to study English at Rice, she points to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship and Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Program as examples.

Intensive English programs, offered through colleges in every region of the country, vary in size, length, admission requirements and academic credit. An F1 visa is required, but the programs will help prospective students.

“The first step is to send us a query,” Bish says. “We work with the students and guide them through the process.”

In addition to Education USA, the Institute of International Education’s Intensive English USA is a great resource for finding the intensive English program that suits your needs.

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Want to improve your English? Time to get intensive

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